Britain

PM visits ‘dodgy but stable’ dam as it remains a ‘major problem’

By Andy Hayes, news reporter

Boris Johnson has visited a damaged Derbyshire dam still at risk of bursting, describing it as "dodgy but stable" and a "substantial risk".

The prime minister met local residents and the emergency services in Whaley Bridge and said the operation to shore the dam up "may go on for a few days".

The water level at Toddbrook Reservoir, which sits above the town, has dropped by half a metre and further high-volume water pumps are being brought in, police said.

But it needs to drop by "several more" metres, the Canal and River Trust said.

The Met Office said thundery conditions may affect the area on Sunday.

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Image: Boris Johnson meeting local residents and rescue crews near Whaley Bridge

An RAF Chinook has been dropping one-tonne sandbags to bolster the damaged reservoir wall.

If the dam collapsed, destruction could be wreaked on "the whole of the village below, on livelihoods, on families, on homes", the PM said.

More from Derbyshire

In a press conference not long before Mr Johnson arrived, police said the risk to life nearby "remains high".

This evening I visited Whaley Bridge to talk to those impacted and thank our brave emergency services and military personnel for their work.

We are doing everything possible to ensure homes and businesses are protected. pic.twitter.com/dbFA8zaiRG

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 2, 2019

Residents have, however, been told they can briefly go back to their homes.

It will be one person per household, and they will go at "their own risk", said Kem Mehmet, assistant chief constable of Derbyshire Police.

The decision to allow people to collect pets and belongings had been "difficult", he said, and it would happen in a "controlled" fashion.

In the meantime, he urged people to "stay away from Whaley Bridge".

Chinook swoops over Derbyshire community dealing with flood
RAF Chinook drops sandbags to try to stop dam collapsing

Asked to give his impressions, Boris Johnson said: "It's looking dodgy but stable is how I would describe it.

"The water all needs to come out, there needs to be a proper repair, a rebuild of that dam, and that's obviously what we're going to do," he told reporters.

Speaking separately at Chapel-en-le-Frith High School, he said: "I flew over the dam and it looks pretty scary. I can see the problem."

Residents would "all be properly housed" if the dam burst, he said.

Mr Johnson added to a group of police officers: "Let's hope it doesn't happen."

Boris Johnson meets police at Whaley Bridge Football Club
Image: Boris Johnson meets police at Whaley Bridge Football Club

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, who chaired a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee on Friday aftermoon, said the dam had not been stabilised.

Ms Villiers urged people in Whaley Bridge to be "patient" and to continue to listen to advice from the emergency services.

She added that engineers were working "at pace to do everything we can to ensure that we stabiliseRead More – Source

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